Thursday, March 18, 2010

a levite, a priest and a samaritan

A Levite, a Priest and a Samaritan sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it is far from a joke, but a sweet lesson of grace. We can find the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
Don't you love it when you read a passage in the bible that you have read many times and you pick up that same passage and find a new nugget to carry in your pocket?

That's what happened to me as I read again about the Good Samaritan. See, we have these four men in this story. The fourth man being the one who has been robbed of all and left for dead. We see the Levite, who knows the law so well. We have the Priest, who also is to walk in a Godly way, and the Samaritan, the one who thinks he is more righteous than all.

It seems easy to love those we have close ties with right? Those in our family, our friends, and those in our close knit circles we often reach out to as soon as we hear of a need, but what happens when someone is in need that we really don't know? Do we not usually begin asking questions? Where did they come from, how did they get in this predicament? Then comes the judging upon them. We just love to throw in our own two cents don't we?

We we would assume the Levite or the Priest would have stopped to help this man in need. They would have been the likely ones to stop, but they did not. They just passed him by laying there almost breathless. They just seemed as though they didn't even see him. Do you think they could have even walked over him? Maybe they had to walk around him. Ever do that yourself? See someone in need and walk right on by as though no one was there? Maybe you have been the one no one has noticed at all.

Along this traveled road it was common that those passing through were robbed and left for dead. So here we see a man on a well traveled road, and he has been robbed and in need. Look who comes by, reaches down, and gives a hand to this man, a Samaritan. Someone who would walk on the other side of the street just to avoid those less worthy. He not only helps the man up, but takes him to an inn. He just doesn't leave him there, but he gives the inn keeper enough to take care of this hurting man, and will come back and pay the remainder if it is not enough. The least of all to give gave that day. He didn't just give to one of his own. He didn't just give to be seen, because a Samaritan would not want to be seen giving to another unlike himself. He didn't just make sure he was okay either, he made sure the man would be taken care of. He gave more than enough that day. I am sure he never thought that day he gave would be here for us years later to read and follow his example. Not really even his example but God's, and this Samaritan was showing more than those who claimed to know God well.

As one, a lawyer, who stands asking Jesus questions, it is this story that Jesus points to for reference on, "So he answered and said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (verse 27) With all wonder in heaven that is what this Samaritan was doing. He loved a neighbor as himself. When we in turn love others we are loving Jesus, just as when we love Jesus, we must love others. They go hand in hand together. You can't have one without the other.

How we treat others is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. We often place stereotypes on people. The same goes in this story, with these three men, all different, but all falling into a stereotype, and the amazing thing is none of them were being who they were thought to be. It was the one least expected that reached out. As Christians do we not also fall into stereotypes? We are to be those who reach out and help and often times we are not the ones doing the will of God, but it is those least expected showing the true love of God. What I find interesting is that in this scripture it does not tell us what happened to the Samaritan after this moment. We know nothing of his life before or after this moment of grace and giving he so openly offered to another. Did he go back to his ways of a Samaritan, or was this who he really was? Today, he was one who stood out, took a step out and gave to another what he needed. Can you imagine this man as he woke up? I wonder what he thought. Did he know it was the Samaritan who cared for him?

This story speaks to my heart as I too have placed stereotypes on others. I have judged others, just as others have judged me. I don't want to be a stereotype. I simply want to be all Christ has called me to be.

Just as in this story as the lawyer is trying to justify himself by asking Jesus who is his neighbor, do we not also try to justify what we do or not do? Isn't it often easier to say, "Let someone else help for a while?" We might even say, "I don't know them, I am sure they have family to help them out." We say these things, yet we claim to be followers of Christ, who didn't walk on the other side of the road to keep away from certain folks. He didn't step over others to get to where He was needed, but with each step He reached out to all who came.

There is much here to be learned. Much to apply to our lives and the way we walk in Christ and also search our heart to see if indeed we are followers of Christ or are we just simply walking on the wrong side of the road.
Lord may I look to the heart of a man and not the outside. May I never carry within my heart stereotypes for another walking in this earth. May I give with a willing heart to all in need. May I never make a difference in any person, but give the same grace you give to me daily. Forgive me Lord for not always walking in the way you have for me, but change this girls heart and life to look more like You.
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